Despite their late comeback, the Atlanta Gladiators could not hold their opponent off in the shootout, and fell to the Orlando Solar Bears by a score of 3-2 at the Amway Center on Sunday afternoon.
Orlando opened the scoring for the third game in a row with a tally 2:33 into the first period. Chris Crane received the puck in his offensive zone and cut towards the left circle, where he then blasted a shot over the shoulder of Atlanta goalie Matt Ginn to put the Solar Bears ahead 1-0. Both Darik Angeli and Kyle Shapiro were credited with an assist on the Ohio native’s 15th goal of the season.
The Solar Bears would then double their lead with a power play goal at the 11-minute mark of the second period. Eric Faille controlled the puck in the offensive zone for Orlando and sent a pass to Chris Bradley at the point. The R.P.I. product then collected the puck and delivered a saucer pass to Patrick Watling, who one-timed a shot into the net for his 11th tally of the season.
Atlanta would cut the deficit to 2-1 with only :32 seconds left in the middle frame. Derek Nesbitt found the back of the net for the 20th time this season with a snap shot from the low slot. Justin Buzzeo picked up his team-leading 38th assist of the year on the play after he forced a turnover deep in the Orlando zone and delivered a backhand pass to the Gladiators’ captain.
The Gladiators would bring the game even with only 1:13 remaining in regulation. Buzzeo was credited with his second point after he whistled a shot past Kasmir Kaskisuo on the power play for his 17th goal of the year. Josh Atkinson added his name to the scoresheet with the primary assist, while Nesbitt doubled his point total with the secondary helper.
With the game still tied at the end of regulation, the teams went to sudden death 3-on-3 overtime for five minutes. However, neither team was able to score in the extra period, so the game was decided by a three-player shootout. Austin Block and Alex Gacek both scored in the first two rounds for Orlando, while Atlanta was not able to capitalize on either chance, and the home team ended the contest with the 3-2 victory.
The shootout loss dropped the Gladiators to 21-25-6-2 on the year and kept Atlanta in sixth in the South Division with 50 points, while Orlando improved to 28-19-6-3 and jumped to third in the division with 65 points.